X1 Carbon Gen 9: Lenovo has to be careful with the ThinkPad keyboard
Lenovo ThinkPads are known for their TrackPoints and keyboards. Even back when IBM still operated the brand, the ThinkPad keyboard was often seen as some sort of "gold standard".
Do not get us wrong: ThinkPad keyboards are still good today. Throughout the years though, Lenovo has removed some unique elements. For example, the 7 row keyboard that mirrored the standard desktop keyboard layout more closely. At the same time, the old key design was replaced by Chiclet keys - the Chiclet keys originally closely mirrored the old keys in their typing feel, but Lenovo quickly reduced the key travel from 2.5 to 1.8 mm.
Still, ThinkPad keyboards remained superior to many other laptop keyboards. Especially for ultralight laptops, it was difficult to find better keyboards than in the ThinkPad flagship X1 Carbon. Since its arrival on the market in 2012, the travel remained the same (1.8 mm), which made those keyboards very comfortable to use.
At least until 2018. In 2019, Lenovo introduced the X1 Carbon Gen 7 with a new 1.5 mm key travel keyboard. The typing feel got slightly worse. With the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9, Lenovo introduces additional changes - it is not a full-size keyboard anymore, and the key caps are less tall than before.
Together with the softer feel on our review unit, we did not rate the keyboard of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 in our comprehensive review to be as good as the old X1 Carbon keyboards. It is another step backwards. Lenovo has to be careful not to throw away a big advantage of the ThinkPad series - otherwise, the days of the "gold standard" are truly over.